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Irish look to stay hot against Rockets

Fran Tolan | Tuesday, April 17, 2007

After winning a conference series for the first time all season, Notre Dame looks to maintain its momentum as it heads into a showdown with Toledo at Frank Eck Stadium today.

Irish coach Dave Schrage said his team has been inconsistent this season, rarely putting together a sustained period of quality play.

“When we start to play well, we tend to lay back,” Schrage said. “Our job as coaches is to make sure that doesn’t happen.”

The Irish have only won back-to-back games three times this season – including a four-game win streak from March 17-23.

In an 11-2 dismantling of Georgetown Sunday, Schrage said his team failed to remain focused for the entire contest after scoring 11 runs in the first four innings.

“Even today, we got one hit the last five innings,” Schrage said. “You have to play all nine innings.”

Against Toledo (16-13), the Irish will send sophomore righthander Brett Graffy to the mound with hopes of recapturing the solid play that allowed them to blow out Georgetown Friday and Sunday. Graffy is 2-2 with a 4.45 ERA in 11 appearances this season.

He will take on a Toledo lineup that boasts five hitters whose batting averages are above the .300 mark. The Irish offense will take on Toledo senior righty Todd Thomas, who has a 4-2 record to go with a 6.61 ERA coming in to the contest.

The Irish pounded out 29 hits in the three games against Georgetown and look to continue to rake against Thomas, who has given up 47 hits in 32 2/3 innings pitched.

Schrage said he is confident the Irish will maintain their intensity during the first of two mid-week games before they take on West Virginia this weekend.

“We have won three out of four,” Schrage said, “but I don’t think we’ll lay back.”

The Irish will also face off against Purdue Wednesday before the three-game conference series with the Mountaineers.